Friends forging a course together through the unexpected

Tough Mudder vs. 2.0 May 13, 2015

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 7:22 pm
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This weekend my husband participated in his second Tough Mudder in Richmond, Illinois. Last year there were just three of them but somehow this year they convinced another two guys to join their team. We drove up at 8 a.m. to the border of Wisconsin to meet up with the rest of the team.

A week before, the ladies chatted and divided up items to bring. I’ve learned to wear layers. It’s early spring and the morning starts off cool but can heat up quickly by the afternoon. Plus, as repeat spectators, we’ve learned to pack just a few items for ourselves and our husbands.

Tough Mudder

Recommended Spectator List

  • Snacks – granola bars, pretzels, apples, carrots
  • Water
  • Sunscreen
  • Hiking or sturdy gym shoes (do not wear flip flops!)
  • Rainjacket – wear layers!
  • Hat
  • First aid kit
  • A small backpack to carry everything

Recommended Participant List

  • Extra set of clothes
  • Extra pair of shoes
  • Large trash bags
  • Towels
  • Mudder headband(s)
  • Wear a form fitting shirt
  • ID

The guys completed all of the obstacles and about a dozen miles together in about four hours. It was fun to cheer them on and the other participants. I give major props for anyone who participates in a Tough Mudder. I don’t think I’ll ever give it a go, I’ll stick with a 5K or two and call it a day!


Break Time at the Noon Whistle April 15, 2015

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 8:17 pm
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After taking last week off, I’m back! This past weekend Matt and I checked out a new brewery called Noon Whistle in Lombard. The establishment focuses more on session brews, which means there is not a lot of alcohol in the beer so you could theoretically drink more :). From the listing of nine beers on tap when we visited, the average ABV was around 5%. However, they did have one barleywine that weighed in at 10%.

When you first walk in, you can see the brewery operation as there are no walls dividing that area from the seating area. The place is a decent size with a few large tables and four person barrel tables as well as a bar. There is also a large garage door that can be opened to let in the nicer weather we are finally starting to experience. They don’t serve any food but on the weekends they do have a rotation of food trucks that stop by.

After reviewing the menu, we both decided on a tasting. The tasting included four four-ounce pours. I went with the lighter beer styles, including a saison, German Weiss, wit and Kolsch. Matt went for the IPA/darker ones, including a dubbel session, an IPA, the barleywine and pale ale. All of the beers were very easy to drink – no surprise since they were sessions.

Our samples from Noon Whistle

Our samples from Noon Whistle

We went on a Saturday evening around 8 p.m. and it filled up quickly. The place can be a little loud with a lot of people. Sometimes I felt like Matt and I were yelling during our conversation so we could hear each other. I think they next time we go back, we’ll try to go a little early and maybe bring a board game to pass the time as we drink our many beers.


Beer and Ice Cream the Best Combo Date Night March 25, 2015

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 7:46 pm
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Saturday night Matt and our friends Lei and Chris headed to Lagunitas TapRoom. We’ve been wanting to check out the brewery since it opened in January. The taproom is located just South of Ogden and North of Cermak, practically next door to the Cook County Courthouse.

With traffic heavy on 290, we simply jumped on Ogden and we were there in no time. We grabbed an excellent parking spot and headed inside. The entire building is gigantic, especially after visiting Penrose; everything seemed to be on steroids. We walked in and waited in line before we could head up stairs to be seated for food. While waiting, we were able to hit up the downstairs bar and grabbed a few beers. We only waited about 10 minutes before we were told to head on up.

Lagunitas Taproom

The restaurant is open seating. It was like a cross between Urban Chestnut’s Grove Brewery and Harpoon’s Boston Brewery. Tons of picnic tables lined an open space with a bar at one end and a stage at the other. When we walked in we were greated by a live band and quickly grabbed four open seats. Our meal started off with brisket topped nachos and a large pretzel with horseradish mustard. For the main course Lei and I both ordered the sandwich special, which was pulled pork with a side of coleslaw and chips. Chris got a burger and Matt got a sandwich with bacon, ham, cheese and pickles. Everything was delicious, including the beer!

My favorite part of the location is the restaurant is where it’s situated on the third floor. There is an observation deck, where you can sit and enjoy your food and overlook a lot of beer and the entire beer making process. The third floor also features walkways where you can overlook the process too. The night we went, we were treated to watching some of the crew fill up quarter kegs.

Lagunitas Taproom

Between the beer, food, live music and good company, I’m sure we’ll be back again soon. But that’s not quite where the night ended.

Since we were already downtown, I figured we’d grab some dessert. And what better place than to check out Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream’s new store in Wicker Park?!?! Apparently a lot of other people had the same idea because we couldn’t find parking anywhere. So, I gave my order to Matt and parked with my flashers on. It was totally worth it. My order was a goat-cheese cherry that was fantastic. What better way to end a night than with delicious ice cream?


Chi-Irish for the Day March 18, 2015

IMG_2436[1]Observing Saint Patrick’s Day is probably one of my favorite holidays to celebrate in downtown Chicago. This year, Matt was finally able to join me and our friends in being “Chirish” for the day. On Friday night we decided to skip watching the Chicago River dyeing since it started at 9:15 a.m. meaning we’d have to be on a 7:30 a.m. train. And let’s be honest, that’s definitely not going to happen on a Saturday morning. Instead, we took an 11 a.m. Metra train into the city.

Our first destination was the Chicago River to take a few photo next to the “green” river. I was surprised to see that the dye didn’t reach as far west as it had in past years. By the time we arrived it was barely under the State Street bridge compared to reaching past Wells Street even last year. Once our pictures were taken, we walked to our main destination – the Hard Rock Cafe.

Matt and I grabbed a corned beef sandwich on marble rye as soon as we got there.  Within a few moments they were both gone. Probably from a combination of being very hungry and simply eating a delicious lunch. With food in our bellies we were ready to start dancing to The Hat Guys. The band is always there to play our favorite pop songs from the 80’s and 90’s. This year we stayed later than usually and were treated to a performance by the Shannon Rovers Irish Pipe Band. You can’t celebrate St. Patrick’s Day without bagpipes.

As the afternoon went on, a few more friends stopped by and I even ran into an old co-worker. By the time 5 p.m. rolled around our voices where going and we figured it was time to head home. As you can see, there is no surprise why the The Hard Rock Cafe has become the destination of choice over the last five years on St. Patrick’s Day. There is no cover, good music, green beer reasonably priced, it’s a great place to meet up with friends and they a decent food menu. Oh, and of course amazing live music.

All and all another great St. Patrick’s Day for the books!


Penrose Brewery Review March 11, 2015

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 8:27 pm
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Penrose breweryThis year, I got Matt a Groupon to Penrose Brewery for his Valentine’s Day gift. Penrose had been on our list of breweries to try out so I figured this was the perfect opportunity to actually go. The $15 Groupon included a tour, 2 free samples, a glass and an empty growler. To make the deal even sweeter, I was able to apply a 20% coupon for Valentine’s Day!

When he opened his gift, he was very excited and wanted to go that day. Unfortunately, there were no tour openings. So we reviewed our schedules and then selected an upcoming tour date and time on Penrose’s website. Then we just had to wait.

Finally the day came for our afternoon adventure to Penrose. Our tour was scheduled for 2 p.m. so we decided to get there ten minutes ahead of time. Mostly so I could check out merchandise and Matt could decide what beer he’d like to drink while on the tour. The layout of the tap room includes a bar and lots of large tables perfect for a large group or for meeting new people. Penrose even supplies board games for enjoyment. Our timing was perfect and we each got great sample beers for the tour.

We’ve been on a few brewery tours and this was probably one of our favorites. We had a charismatic tour leader and a very inquisitive group. We started in the back of the facility with the grain and hops to review the process of how Penrose brews their beer. Then we moved on to the fermentor area and then to the bottling area. We ended up learning a lot about the company and future growth plans while enjoying our tasty beers.

After the tour we grabbed a table with another couple who was on the tour. We had a great time talking about everything from local restaurants, favorite spots for vacations, to the process of buying a home. All while drinking a few more beers.

I’m glad we finally made it to Penrose Brewery and definitely recommend getting the Groupon if it’s still available. If not you should still go!

Sample time!

Sample time!


2015 Aspirations December 29, 2014

Filed under: Kate — Uncharted @ 11:58 am
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I’m back on the wagon – at least in the sense that I am once again copying Kelly’s awesome idea of creating a list of 30 Goals for the year 2015!

2015 is going to be a crucial year in my life, especially when it comes to my health and happiness. As some of you may know, I was recently diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. RA is an auto-immune disease that affects more women than men and symptoms can creep up at any age, though they often creep up between the ages of 30 and 60. I won’t get too into it, but if you’re interested in reading more about RA, check out the Arthritis Foundation. Though I think I have been handling this news and the initial treatment pretty well, I consider my RA to be a huge inconvenience. It’s also a great motivator to be more conscientious of my health and happiness… so a lot of my goals this year will reflect a shift in my extra-curricular activities.

I hear making the bed on a daily basis plays a crucial role in overall happiness… though I’m a bit nervous about sticking with it. Did you make resolutions this year?

  1. Get healthy – cut back on bad foods/drinks and eat cleaner, get RA under control
  2. Golf a round with less than 10 strokes per hole
  3. Finish staining the cabinets in the kitchen and laying the tile at the fireplace
  4. Learn to use my new telescope
  5. Take more photos of friends and family, get them printed and organized
  6. Attend/Participate in a charity event for rheumatoid arthritis or auto-immune diseases
  7. Be more affectionate, tell/show people how I feel
  8. Read at least 12 books
  9. Go someplace I’ve never been before
  10. Save more money and invest some of it in stocks
  11. Attend Zumba, Yoga or some sort of class at least twice per month
  12. Do something that takes me out of my comfort zone
  13. Surprise 3 people with a thoughtful gift or hand written letter
  14. Learn how to use my camera in MF mode and take at least 1 amazing photograph
  15. Conquer a fear
  16. Do something kind for a complete stranger
  17. Keep a journal
  18. Buy a helmet and ride my bike instead of driving
  19. De-clutter our home. Anything not used within a year gets tossed or donated
  20. Make our bed every day
  21. Go to a sporting event
  22. Take a vacation
  23. Laugh and smile more – Be Happy and be contagious
  24. Get rid of the shoes – sell or donate them all
  25. Join the AMA
  26. Do something touristy in Chicago
  27. Do a spa day and don’t feel guilty about it
  28. Build a snowman
  29. Try a new recipe for vegetables each month
  30. Live in the present. Don’t wish away week days.

Chicago Holiday Excursions Part 1 December 17, 2014

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 8:23 pm
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Tis the season for tons of holiday events, craft fairs, expos, and holiday lights in Chicago. This week Matt continued to check holiday events off of our list. On Sunday afternoon we accompanied our friends, the Ludwig’s, to the Chicago Botanic Garden for the Wonderland Express exhibit. The exhibit features miniatures of historical buildings and landmarks in Chicago surrounded by poinsettias and other holiday plants with model trains bustling all around you.


It was fun walking through the exhibit and marveling at the construction of the miniatures. Once done inside, we headed outside to walk a few trails. This was only my second time at the Botanic Gardens so it was neat to see all the different types of gardens on the grounds. My favorite were the English and Japanese style gardens. Maybe this spring/summer I’ll go back to see how it looks in full-bloom. To compensate for the lack of outdoor flowers, there were a ton of lights wrapped around trees and plants. As sunset approached, the gardens started to glow white, yellow and red. With the lights and beautiful garden backdrop, a beautiful winter scene was created.

Ready to be refueled after walking around the gardens, we headed to Crisp. Tom and Kim were raving about their twice fried Korean chicken so we had to go! I thought Sunday evening wouldn’t be a busy time, but I was totally wrong. The place was packed with folks dining in at their 4 large communal tables or standing waiting for their take out order. Luckily Matt and I knew what we wanted to get from scoping out the menu on the ride to the restaurant. We ordered one whole chicken with the Crisp BBQ sauce, a side of fries and kimchi. Everything was delicious and yes we had leftovers.


This past Monday Matt and I took a half day off work and traveled to the Christkindl Market in Daley Plaza. We always have the same plan of attack for navigating the busy market. One of us responsible for food and the other for the gluhwein, which is warmed spiced red wine served in cute novelty mugs. We’ve found that if executed properly, we can enjoy eating our food while we wait for our beverages. This year we both got a bratwurst with sauerkraut and split an order of potato pancakes with herbed sour cream and smoked salmon. With happy bellies and our warm gluhwein in hand it was time to find a few ornaments and spiced nuts. As for our ornament haul, we picked up a pickle, a black lab for Porter, a beautiful wood carving of a deer and evergreen trees, as well as a red glass tree-topper.


Our favorite holiday traditions continue this weekend with a stop to Lincoln Square and Zoo Lights at Brookfield Zoo. Can you guess what next week’s blog post might be about? 😉


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